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Equality news round-up: new campaign highlights military servicemembers in same-sex marriages, and more

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

– Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has teamed up with Freedom to Marry for a campaign that will highlight the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act on military servicemembers. The campaign is called ‘Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Serve.”

– Manny Pacquiao, a world-famous boxer, is recently reported as saying gay people should be put to death and he opposes President Obama’s marriage equality position. The National Organization for Marriage highlighted his views on the president’s statement approvingly.

– Via press release, an FDA committee has recommended the approval of a rapid, in-home HIV test:

FDA Committee Recommends First Ever Rapid In-Home HIV Test

Could Significantly Increase Proportion of Americans Aware of HIV Status, Reduce Transmission

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Blood Products Advisory Committee recommended approval of the first ever in-home rapid HIV test. The product – the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test – is manufactured by OraSure Technologies, Inc. and is the same device as the OraQuick Rapid Test, which is already approved for use in a broad range of health care settings and is the standard of care at most testing sites around the country. Its accuracy, ease, and efficiency have been repeatedly demonstrated in national studies.

“Approximately 50,000 individuals in the U.S. are newly infected with HIV each year,” said National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “Even more alarming is the fact that one in five people living with HIV in America do not know it. The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test would provide an important tool to supplement current HIV screening efforts by providing an accessible, relatively inexpensive device that can be used in the privacy of one’s own home. This is especially important for minority communities, where HIV stigma often prevents individuals from utilizing traditional testing services.”

Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) examined the extent to which current policies and practices present barriers to HIV testing. It concluded that minority populations are not only infected at a higher rate than their White counterparts, they shoulder a considerably higher percentage of undiagnosed HIV/AIDS cases. While the percentage of unrecognized HIV infection among Whites is 18.8, that number is 29.5 among Asians and Pacific Islanders, 25.8 among Americans Indians and Alaskan Natives, 22.2 among Blacks and African-Americans, and 21.6 in Latinos.

“Individuals with unrecognized HIV infection are more likely to unknowingly transmit the virus to others,” continued Lindsey. “In fact, they are as much as three and a half times more likely to transmit the virus than those who know their status, accounting for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. Research shows that most individuals take steps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus following an HIV diagnosis. Expanded access to testing, including through accurate in-home screening, is an essential tool in slowing the spread of HIV. At the same time, we must ensure that those who do test positive can easily access care and support services, much like those included in the OraQuick testing package.”

“NMAC believes the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test would provide a critical expansion of current prevention efforts, particularly among minority populations isolated by the persistent stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS,” concluded Lindsey. “We applaud the committee’s decision today and urge the FDA to approve its use.”

– Law professor Michael Dorf credits the right wing for the launching of the marriage equality movement.

– In a round-up yesterday I noted that the New York Times seemed to be blaming a transgender murder victim for the attack on them. GLAAD says they are doubling down.

– The gay son of a Colorado lawmaker who helped kill the civil unions bill is speaking out.

– Apparently Mitt Romney is on video saying in 2006 that the price of same sex marriage is paid by the children.

– Civil disobedience actions continue in North Carolina after its passage of Amendment 1.

– There was a bomb threat scare at the HRC and other LGBT rights organizations’ buildings yesterday.

– A Senate committee will vote on the Domestic Partnerships Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBOA), which would ensure same-sex partners of federal government workers receive some federal benefits. UPDATED: They voted.


  • 1. Seth from Maryland  |  May 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the only republican who voted for it , i have feeling Sen. Susan Collins already supports marriage equality and repealing doma, but is probrolly waiting to see what happens in november in Maine

  • 2. AnonyGrl  |  May 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Interestingly, I visited NOMblog and read their take on Manny Pacquiao. The article itself is predictable, but there were only three comments posted. All three called for NOM to post the REST of Mr. Pacquiao's quote, where he favored the death penalty for homosexuals, and wondered if this was, in fact, the person NOM wanted to hold up as a shining example.

    If I could post over there, I would repost the "Hanging Larry" pic. Because Larry, they disavowed, but Manny, quoting the SAME biblical passage is their new hero. Hm.

  • 3. fiona64  |  May 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    You know, I got the Courage Campaign donation request this morning talking about how we need to petition Nike to dump Manny Pacquiao. As someone who was quite active in trying to get them to dump convicted felon Michael Vick from their sponsoree list, I can tell you that they will NOT listen. They don't give a crap about anything except getting more people to buy their sweatshop-made shoes and garments. I'm not interested in throwing good money after bad to tell some corporate asshats in Beaverton, Oregon, that we disapprove of their tactics … just so they can say "Yeah, so what."

    Maybe I've truly reached compassion fatigue at last.

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Minnesota United Releases New Ad :

    The team from Minnesota United, a group fighting to defeat a state amendment banning same-sex marriage, released a new commercial featuring Republican Rep. John Kriesel's passionate speech about Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a late gay veteran, and how it's not okay to believe someone can die for the country but does not deserve the right to marry the person they love. It's very effective

    Read more:

  • 5. CHRIS  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    It doesn't matter. We simply CAN'T outdo the haters on voter turnout.

  • 6. Marta  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    According to Salon, Manny Pacquiao said homosexuality was a sin, but he never actually said that he wants homosexuals dead.

    The original article in the that published his statement also quoted a verse of Leviticus which states homosexuals should be put to death. However, Manny himself never said that.

    You can argue that he still shouldn't be a spokesperson for Nike, but the petition is factually wrong, and the hysteria of "Manny Pacquiao wants you dead!!!!!" is overblown. He's not said anything that other mainstream conservative sports figures and pundits don't say all the time.

  • 7. Marta  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Forgot the link:

  • 8. Marta  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    According an article on Salon, Manny never actually said he favored the death penalty.

    He should be added to list of other known anti-gay professional athletes, but the death penalty hysteria is overblown.

  • 9. bayareajohn  |  May 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I love that he quotes what God wants us to do, but "hasn't read Leviticus yet". So, it's clear that his grasp of what the Bible says is hearsay. But infallible.

  • 10. Rich  |  May 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I have contacted Senator Collins, my Senator, and asked her to state publicly her position on marriage equality. I, too, think she is on our side of history but perhaps she needs a little push. Care to join me in this endeavor?

  • 11. Rich  |  May 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Just an aside and in checking out the NOM blog, it seems they have moved into shrill mode again. Lots of hysteria and name-calling again. Perhaps President Obama's support is the result they feared. They have wanted to "out" him all along but now rue the day he actually did. Obama and the country have evolved…Professor Michael Dorf is correct; the fundamentalist right have done the work for us. Good things are happening.

  • 12. Seth from Maryland  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm


  • 13. _BK_  |  May 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Well, I'm of the belief that we can not only do that, but also outdo the haters on facts as well on any day of the week.

  • 14. Stefan  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Amazing. We are going to win in Minnesota!!!

  • 15. Reformed  |  May 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    In this blog post, the words "recently reported as saying" is hyperlinked to another article which has "updates" that clarify what this guy said and did not say.

  • 16. DaveP  |  May 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Hey, no problem, you've more than earned a few hours off. We'll cover for ya. When you get your second wind, jump back in!

  • 17. DaveP  |  May 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    I am VERY glad to see that Obama's remarks in support of marriage equality did not turn out to be a one-day sound bite. I have been seeing coverage of this, and of all the related issues that it raises, every day, on several news programs on various networks. I don't think I've seen the issue of marriage equality get this much coverage since the days immediately before and after the 2008 election and Prop 8.

  • 18. MFargo  |  May 17, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I believe Judge Walker addressed this during the Prop 8 trial, that is, that organized religion is a formidible foe at the polls. I grew up during the civil rights era and there too, the battle for hearts and minds seemed an uphill battle. But through organization and education–which has to start somewhere–I believe we can win. Plus we have significant support on our side both from court rulings as well as powerful people willing to speak out and defend us.

  • 19. MightyAcorn  |  May 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

    And as you recall, none of the big breakthroughs at that time were via popular vote, it took big legal and legislative acts to end segregation. I do believe we need to fight at the ballot box too, though–as we're seeing with Prop 8 and Amendment One, significant damage is done to families while these laws are in effect. We must fight to prevent any that we can from being enacted….and oddly, sadly, we seem to get a lot of forward motion after such ballot losses. I wish the world was easier, most days.

  • 20. MightyAcorn  |  May 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I think *someone* needs cookies and MILK (hands over platter and jug)

  • 21. MFargo  |  May 17, 2012 at 9:36 am

    For me, as I recall, it was the mass demonstrations and marches from all quarters that turned the tide. We're in a somewhat different situation economically than the battle for African American rights which legislation has yet to remedy. Until there's social acceptance, a law (or in our case repeal of laws)–while significant–is something to dance around. I still come back to Ted Olson's courageous fight for us. He stepped away from the knee-jerk platforms of his party and took a stance born from conscience. And while he won for us in a major way in the courtroom, I think his example of conscience won us votes at the ballot box as well. Hatred is so easy to sell, and like you, it wish it could be easier. But we have many powerful supports, and I think the number who support us can only grow.

  • 22. Bronor K  |  May 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Off topic but when one tries to contact a senator, what's the best way, email, snail mail, etc?<img src=""><img src=""&gt;

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